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Rollins v. Pierce

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 19, 2014

DUANE ROLLINS, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

Duane Rollins. Pro se petitioner.

Maria T. Knoll, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GREGORY M. SLEET, Chief District Judge.

Pending before the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner Duane Rollins ("Rollins"). (D.I. 2) For the reasons discussed, the court will deny the petition.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The facts leading to Rollins' arrest and conviction are as follows:

Rollins and Demond Laws engaged in a verbal dispute on June 8, 2006. The argument took place on the street near Rollins' house and was witnessed by Laws' girlfriend. The argument escalated when Rollins retrieved something from a nearby vehicle and approached Laws with what appeared to be a handgun. When Laws' girlfriend called the police, Rollins retreated into the house.
Wilmington Police Detective Patrick Conner arrived at the scene to find other officers securing the premises and trying to get Rollins to come out of the house. Detective Conner left the scene to apply for a search warrant. By the time Conner returned with the warrant, Rollins had surrendered to the police and was in custody.
As a result of his search of the house, yard and vehicle, Detective Conner seized several rounds of ammunition, an electronic scale, clear plastic bags in various sizes, a pot of marijuana plants, and two different substances that he suspected were cocaine or heroin. Conner also recovered a handgun.

Rollins v. State, 7 A.3d 485 (Table), 2010 WL 4320376 (Del. Nov. 1, 2010).

Rollins was arrested and subsequently indicted on charges of trafficking in cocaine (10-50 grams), possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, manufacturing marijuana, aggravated menacing, and resisting arrest. A Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Rollins of the drug charges and resisting arrest. However, a mistrial was declared for the remaining charges (weapon/ammunition and aggravated menacing) because the jury was unable to reach an unanimous verdict. Id. The Superior Court sentenced Rollins to a total of sixteen years incarceration suspended after six years for varying levels of supervision. See Rollins v. State, 945 A.2d 595 (Table), 2008 WL 637782 (Del. Mar. 10, 2008). Rollins' conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Id.

In March 2009, Rollins filed a prose motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"), alleging he was constructively and/or actually denied the right to counsel for three reasons: (1) the Public Defender's policy and procedures prevented trial counsel from providing effective representation; (2) trial counsel erred by admitting to the jury that Rollins was growing marijuana in a potted plant in his back yard; and (3) trial counsel was replaced by appellate counsel on direct appeal. See Rollins, 2010 WL 43203 76, at *1. The Delaware Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's judgment and also denied Rollins motion for rehearing. Id.

II. GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES

A. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") "to reduce delays in the execution of state and federal criminal sentences... and to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism." Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 206 (2003)(intemal citations and quotation marks omitted). Pursuant to AEDPA, a federal court may consider a habeas petition filed by a state prisoner only "on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). AEDPA imposes procedural requirements and standards for analyzing the merits of a habeas petition in order to "prevent federal habeas ...


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